After a bumpy eight hour bus ride up from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap was my next stop in my journey. The city is most well known for Angkor Wat, one of the seven wonders of the world (eight if you count Andre the Giant). Below is a shot I took from my hotel room as I was getting situated.
Siem Reap is most famous for the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. That and its surrounding ruins draw a large crowd, even at 5:30 in the morning.And the reason for that is it’s photogenic sunrise.Peekaboo.But the locals are used to it, I guess.Ta Prohm… or more commonly known to you youngsters as the place where Tomb Raider was filmed.These little critters are pretty creepy looking, no?I’m all for street art and graffiti, but not at places like this.Bayon, one of my favorite of the ruins.Kids taking an afternoon dip.The next day I scheduled an eight hour ATV quad ride through the countryside and its villages. It was a fantastic time but afterwards, my right hand was all contorted out of shape from gripping the accelerator for such a long period of time. I couldn’t even use chopsticks properly for two days after!I’d say the best part of this day was seeing all these kids running out of their houses as soon as they heard my ATV zipping by. It was as if I was driving an ice cream truck in America. They’d all drop whatever they were doing to run out and say “Hello!!!!!” and wave.
Being from New York, I was a bit skeptical at stopping and taking photos of them at first. What would the parents think? And are these kids going to ask for money? But my guide assured me the kids are just excited to see foreigners and the ATV.
What does that say about me, wondering if kids had ulterior motives. But when you’re in the cities of Cambodia, there are child hawkers everywhere (almost as much as tuktuks!) begging for change or to buy some worthless chotchki. The countryside is a bit different, I guess.Kids in the villages go to school in the mornings and late afternoons. In between, they go back home to help their families out by working. These kids are fishing in the glaring afternoon sun.We stopped by a local market… they have different sanitary conditions as in America. The NYC Department of Health would go nuts. But such is life in Cambodia. The government isn’t so in your face about everything. Which is quite nice, actually.Yes, that’s it’s own tail in it’s mouth.Can I also mention how easy street photography is here? Actually, it’s easier anywhere else in the world other than America. Which is why when I’m shooting street in the U.S., I never ask anyone for permission to take their photos. Otherwise, I’d end up shooting nothing. Or the backsides of people all day. I think in this day and age with facebook and twitter and instagram and bla bla bla, people are suspect of WHY you want to take their photo. They’re quick to jump to the conclusion that there must be something wrong and that you’re only taking their photo so you can post it later and have some disparaging remark underneath in the caption.
Here, it’s completely different. I’ve actually had some strangers stop me so that I could take a picture of them! It’s refreshing, really.
After a long shower (I was covered in dirt everywhere… and I mean everywhere after the eight hour tour), I hit up the famous night market and Pub Street. It was mostly a tourist trap, but you gotta at least walk through the neighborhood once… if anything, to just say you did it. Lots of food stalls, bars, souvenir shops and those places where you dip your feet in a tank of fish and the they eat the dead skin off your feet. Lovely.
The next day I decided to just walk around the city to take some more photos. Here are some kids that are most likely up to no good. And here are some monks who are probably up to good.Durian!And that wraps up my trip to Cambodia. All in all, I loved the country and it’s people and I wished I could have stayed a bit longer. The kids are the most adorable things in the entire world, full of laughs and smiles from ear to ear, despite not having the day to day amenities other kids have in other nations.
I also loved hearing the Khmer (Cambodian) language being spoken. There’s just something so sing-songy about how it sounds. It just sounds like a happy language to me.
Anyways, the Khmer people were so ridiculously friendly and in spite of the rocky history, the people seem quite optimistic and content about their place in life. Yes, there are issues of government corruption and the poor standard of living, but there’s something about the people that I met along the way that leads me to think they live happy, fulfilling lives. Like much of Asia, there are multiple generations within the family living together. Some even have four generations. And they all help each other out and fulfill their familial duties. It was quite beautiful to witness.
Next stop on my adventures across Southeast Asia, was Vietnam. Saigon to be precise. Hope you enjoyed my photos along the way. I’ll be sure to post up photos from Saigon when I get a nice chunk of time to write something up.
Currently, I’m in historic Hoi An, taking photos, eating amazing food and making more friends.
Oh, did I mention how tasty Khmer food is? I’ve actually never had it before I went to Cambodia. But it’s downright delicious. I wonder if there are any Khmer restos in NYC. If so, I’m definitely gonna have to check those out.
Until then, safe travels!